John Grant prompted this cartoon idea recently when he shared an anecdote that a client had posed this very question to an agency John knew.
This is the end result of many companies and brands treating sustainability solely as a marketing benefit, not as an underlying business practice. For years, many companies have given their agencies "green briefs" to find something green to talk about. This explosion in greenwashing makes "green" feel like a fad. And we all know fads come and go.
Which is sadly ironic, given that sustainability is a much deeper commitment than, say, promising a low carb lifestyle.
By coincidence, my mother-in-law asked a similar question over dinner the other night: "when is green going to be over?" She didn’t mean trying to live more sustainability. She meant the green marketing noise level. She voiced some of the green fatigue I imagine that a lot of consumers are feeling. They are ready for companies to talk about something else.
All of this is a commentary on how companies talk about sustainability. Which is totally separate from the actual positive progress on sustainability that many companies and organizations are making. True progress is being tainted by bad marketing.
It’s a complicated road to navigate for marketers and anyone working in sustainability. I found John’s own handbook, The Green Marketing Manifesto, a good place to start.
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Jon Moss says
Interesting post Tom.
What I find to be a good test, is whether the “green marketing” matches the product, service, ethos of the company. Is it deeply engrained, or just a passing trend?
If it is something artificial, fake or put-on, then it is not going to resonate properly with consumers, and eventually with the company themselves.
Also, not every company or brand can REALLY be green. Otherwise the link / advertising can be so tenuous, almost forced.
Only be green if you really are truly committed and your product / brand can truly make a difference.